hello erin »

round four almost did me in. i honestly thought i had this whole “cancer” thing figured out. i was handling every round okay. and i didnt think our family had been affected that badly. and then there was round four.

to start with round 4 is a totally and complete mental f*ck. you’re more than halfway done- yet still have three rounds looming over your head. that combined with the cumulative effects of all of the chemo so far AND my 20% bump and it was a total and complete sh*t show.

i feel like i spent most of this round- and many of the days after in bed. in a complete and total funk- i was exhausted, nauseous, and exactly 0 fun. my mouth sores lasted far longer than they usually do. and my levels (WBC) dropped so low i was neutropenic for the first time ever. i also had my first fever scare.

Mackenzie refused to leave my side in bed during chemo week- even though my mom was here. she had some sort of cold (the same awesome cold thats making its rounds) and passed me her cold. it started just as chemo was coming to a close that week. and landed me in bed for DAYS. like couldn’t muster the strength to move. it gave me a super cool fever (as a cancer patient if you get a fever of 100.5 for longer than an hour its a sign of infection and NO GOOD i hit 101.6 for four hours). i started a round of antibiotics (thanks to the fever), and thankfully got it down before i had to go to the hospital so they could look for an infection.  my first blood test of the week my levels were fine- my second blood test of the week earned me a phone call from a nurse AND my doctor about how low my white blood cell count was and urging me to take necessary precautions with germs and the two germ infested children i’m currently living with.

thats when we decided to run to my parents house for the weekend. we needed to get out- but not actually out (because heaven forbid i get sick and have to postpone the next round of treatment). it was the perfect weekend. we had an extra set of hands to help, we got to go swimming, and the girls had a blast. it sidetracked our big plans to do a disney day as a family that sunday- but thankfully we rescheduled for Wednesday when my WBC had bounced back.

Monday we met with my doctor. we saw the writing on the wall that i wouldn’t have to endure another 20% bump in chemo for round 5. but he said my levels dropped so low, and my symptoms were so bad this round, that i’m going back down to round 3’s dosage. i sighed audibly with relief. as much as i know i have to endure two more rounds- the thought of doing so makes me dry heave. it got hard, and real, and i finally feel like a cancer patient (and i dont love it). so the chance to go down in dose AND still beat this in the end was such welcoming news. i know it’ll still be frustratingly hard. but hopefully focusing on only having to do this twice more will help. plus- we’re shipping the girls to my parents for the last half of chemo week in the hopes that its easier for everyone.

Things are getting harder and its getting hard to remain positive about the whole thing. so many times this round i thought “why me?!”, i have an increasing number of friends getting pregnant with their third- and when they complain about morning sickness i just want to yell “ITS NOT FAIR”. because they get a baby out of their nausea, and i just get to live (and hopefully get my hair back).  I hate complaining- I’ve never considered myself a complainer- but this round i threw myself many a pity party. i didn’t sign up for this mess. i don’t want to have to be “strong”, or a “warrior”, or to be bald. but alas, its what life has thrown our way. so here we are. doing our best to make the non-treatment weeks as normal & fun for the girls.

It took me a long time to hit “publish” on this post. Mostly because it’s so filled with complaints… but a wise woman (in the form of my mother in law) told me it was high time to tell the truth about what’s actually happening. And now that I’m on the other side of round five I promise that next post won’t be quite so “feel so sorry for me”.

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  • April 10, 2017 - 1:54 pm

    Sara - Always tell the truth. It’s why I love you so.

    And you have ONE LEFT. I can’t believe it.

    I love you. That is all.

  • April 10, 2017 - 5:25 pm

    Erinn Connolly - So proud of how strong you are even when you feel the weakest. You are incredible and inspiring, which probably comes across as cliche, but you are. I’m in awe of your strength and ability to keep life as normal as possible for the girls, I really dont know how you are doing it, but want you to keep it up and keep kicking cancer’s ass. All the love and light your way every day.

  • April 10, 2017 - 5:50 pm

    abbi hearne - the truth is good. cancer sucks balls. I hate that you’re going through this and I truly hope this round was the worst and it gets easier and you’re finished before you know it. xoxo

  • April 11, 2017 - 4:13 am

    Sarita - Keep it real, girl! This is the hardest battle you’ve ever had to fight and it’s a doozie! You are awesome. My prayers are with you and your family

  • April 11, 2017 - 4:33 am

    B - Girl, complain away! I think you deserve that and anything else you need/want to do. I cannot even imagine how hard it is – and then to add trying to stay positive … Your girls are so lucky to have you as their mom! You are doing an awesome job. That living part – that’s pretty important to them and (all of us internet stalkers :)) we want to see your pretty face (with or without hair) for many more years! virtual cheers with whatever alcoholic beverage you can keep down!

  • April 11, 2017 - 6:07 am

    Laura - Your honesty just continues to show your strength! thinking about you always friend!

  • April 11, 2017 - 7:01 am

    Joseph - You go right ahead and complain, Erin! Those who love you truly want to here it, so we feel like we are bearing some of the burden. Not doing that prevents us from praying and loving you properly. Your mother-in-law is completely right.

    Braden is 6 years cancer free now after enduring three years of therapy and bone marrow transplant. He went through it pretty well, and had the same feelings about not wanting to burden anyone. But, we learned that that’s not the best way to handle this curse and burden.

    God designed us to love one another. We can’t do that if we don’t know truly how yuo feel. God bless you. Live strong! But cry when you have to

  • April 11, 2017 - 8:52 am

    Sarah S. - You have every right to complain so don’t ever feel sorry for speaking your mind. Besides, it’s your blog. 😉 Stay strong! You are such an inspiration!

  • April 11, 2017 - 12:51 pm

    Cathy - Keep going beautiful girl. Sending you love from Canada.

  • April 11, 2017 - 4:31 pm

    Lauren - You are a warrior woman!

  • April 11, 2017 - 9:43 pm

    Candace Edwards - SO glad you told us how it is Mama! You are still a rockstar for going through this. Praying for you from the Midwest and cheering you on–even when you don’t think you can keep going.

  • April 13, 2017 - 9:34 pm

    Liz - I am constantly in awe of your strength. Even when you don’t feel like you’re being strong, you are. You might feel shitty and have no energy, but you’re fighting the hardest fight and coming out on top at the end. Your girls know just when you need a laugh or a hug and they are there for that. Your family has bonded together and as much as you feel like you’re “not contributing to society”, you are making life as normal and happy for your girls as possible and in the long run, that is all they’ll remember. Round 5 is now behind you and there’s only one more left! I know you want to slap me for saying that, but really, you’re on the home stretch! I love you so much. Keep kicking Bertha’s ass!

  • April 17, 2017 - 8:20 pm

    Desiree - I always feel like I’m at a complete loss for words. Because there are not enough ways to tell you that you are amazing, and you ARE strong, and you ARE a warrior. And, I’ve never, ever seen anyone as beautiful bald as you.
    What you’re going through, it’s not fair. And if anyone has earned the right to complain, it’s you. It’s a real sh*tty deal, and holy cow, you’re handling it so damn well.
    I won’t say all the cliche and frustrating things I want to say, but I will keep sending side hugs, and cheering you on, and telling you that damn it, you’re kicking ass.
    Love you. xo

  • April 18, 2017 - 9:05 pm

    Mabel - Its exactly what you feel and its completely fair to write about it. To get rid of that load of anger and frustration you feel sometimes. And Im sure you will read this post in a few years with a big smile on your face because you beat the sh* out of the mother effing cancer!!!!
    Lots of prayers to you!!

Round three feels like it was a million years ago. We’re really trying to capitalize and use the two weeks between our lives being put on hold so we crammed months worth of activities into the past few weeks.

The actual round was the same as round 2. 20% bump and all. Nausea holds strong during the nighttime and morning hours- but a diet of orange chicken from Panda Express and chicken salad from Lisa’s helps keep it at bay during the day (mike jokes that I’m oddly like a third trimester pregnant person- nausea & cravings – only I don’t get a baby out of all of this. I get my hair back instead). And the insomnia (currently penning this beauty of a blog post at 230AM). My bone pain remains one of my worst symptoms, Claritin & Tylenol & a heating pad seem to dull it a bit- but let’sbereal it still hurts to even have clothing touch it for the first few days.

Mike ditched me and the ladies mid-chemo week this round for a much needed ski trip (the role of caregiver is impossibly hard and that man needed a break from all of us). So my friend leslie came and stayed with us the whole time he was gone. Between her & my friends & family we made it through with little to no drama… although we woke leslie up at 5am every morning. I rewarded her with donuts so we’re even (nope not even close).

I tried working out earlier this time. By Tuesday after getting unhooked I was back at the gym where I made it through half of one of my favorite classes before I felt like blacking out. Rumor has it my bodies already working hard and then working out hard on top of it seems to send my heart rate a little too high.

By Wednesday of that first week we were on our way to mammoth. It took me days to acclimate to the altitude. Walking up the stairs was a chore. But fear not- we still managed to get the decks shoveled (your welcome dad!), see lex ski, and watch k really get to play in the snow. It’s the first time we’ve been up there since she’s been walking and she freaking loved it. The snow is incredible. I’ve never seen it packed so high in front of our house. And it turned out to be such an amazing and much needed family trip.

We drove home Saturday. Because Sunday mike & I rode in a little thing called cycle for survival. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s an event that’s put on by my gym (equinox) and MSK to raise money for rare cancer research. My friends and I had plans to ride in it before my diagnosis. But after being disagnosed WITH a rare cancer it made it all the more special. Our team kicked some major ass and raised over $29,000 for rare cancer researsch that will be conducted in the next SIX MONTHS. and the event as a whole across the country raised $33 million. It took on a whole new meaning when we found out that memorial Sloan Kettering has used money raised in past years to fund research on my exact diagnosis & treatment plan. So words can’t even express my thank you to everyone who donated and helped us out. I HATE that anyone has to go through this- but I’d rather be going through this now versus even 5 years ago when my chance of radiation at the end was high because my chemo regimin hadnt been dialed in yet.

Week 3 was glorious. I was BACK. Our lives were normal. Schedules and mike at work have never felt so good. And k didn’t cry through swim class. I took the ladies to Disneyland for a half day! it felt SO. DAMN. GOOD. We celebrated lex’s birthday at terranea. And she was the happiest little girl EVER. It was k’s birthday, and then we potty trained her. So lex was in need of some eyes all on HER. And I think we delivered her the perfect birthday weekend. Filled with mani-pedis, a surprise weekend at her favorite resort, more swimming than she can handle, and lots of family time. Friday we spent the night as a family. Saturday we had my parents come to pick up k so we could hang solo with lex. And Sunday we went home and hosted a party for the extended family in her honor. She never stopped smiling.

And then I started round 4. Complete with crying to my chemo nurse (totally normal right?) because I just don’t want to do it anymore. Being normal and feeling good- well it felt good. I’m definitely over the whole chemo thing. And REALLY over the whole cancer thing. The emotional side of it has really started to sink in. I pride myself on being fairly strong emotionally- but it’s a lot to handle mentally knowing what being hooked up to my chemo pump will bring. I just crave my normal life again. I wanted to punch anyone who told me I was half way there! Only three more rounds when I long for this to be in my rear view mirror and to have mermaid hair feels like an eternity.

Some of the other side effects I didn’t exactly realize have started to set in. I always thought it was “chemo skinny” and that I’d be heading into summer ready for that swimsuit. No dice for me. Instead the heavy dose of steroids I’m on, paired with a less than stellar diet, and hardly any workouts has me not recognizing my body. While I’ve technically only gained 5lbs it looks like I’ve gained 10-15. It seems silly and trivial to be worried about my body image while literally fighting for my life. But I worked so hard over the past year for a body i was (starting) to be proud of only to get cancer. Pair that with being bald and i hardly recognize myself in the mirror anymore!

Another side effect that gets tested is friendships. I have truly learned a lot about the people in my life through all of this. The good, the bad, the great. Nothing like waging a 6 month battle to strengthen or destroy a few relationships. Most of my friendships have been strengthened.i have friends who reach out daily, who I’m learning genuinely care (who I stopped lying to and saying “I’m fine” when shit actually sucks), the people who put their lives on hold to drive me to and from chemo. The ones who take time off work to come and stay with me to give mike a break. But it’s hard not to become just the “friend with cancer”. It’s interesting to see who’s dropped off  (probably because they don’t know what to say. I get it. Everyone has busy lives. I hold this against no one), and who’s stepped up in ways I never thought I needed. The people who distract me with talk of when the small shops drop their kids clothing lines (which is a very important topic for me!), the ones who’s post pictures of me circa 2003 on my Facebook timeline (for the love please don’t post any more of me as a blonde), and all the cards I keep getting, the ones who drop by with ice cream (or 3lb bags of Swedish fish). It takes a freaking tribe.

And I’ll leave you with one last side effect that started. My beloved eye lashes and brows have taken a turn for the sparse. Let’s just say I’m learning more about makeup than I ever dreamed. You tube makeup tutorials rock.

If you’ve made it this far. I’m currently giving you a standing ovation. And you probably want the last 20 minutes of your life back.

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  • March 14, 2017 - 8:03 am

    Sara - Nope. Not even close. Don’t need the last 20 minutes back at all. Love you, love your bald head (I mean really… who knew you had such amazing bone structure?), and love how you go hard in between the shitty times. I’m still in charge of the post-cancer adventure, FYI.

  • March 14, 2017 - 8:38 am

    Haley - Long time reader…just want to say that you’re an inspiration! And I hope that doesn’t make you cringe, but I understand if it does because I’m sure you don’t want to be an inspiration, you just want to be a regular mom/person. Nevertheless, I’m inspired by you every time you post 🙂

  • March 14, 2017 - 10:04 am

    Gayle Darby - Erin,
    You inspire me! I also want to hold you and tell you it will all be all right (please don’t hit me!). I’ve learned so much about you and your incredible spirit, which leaves me in awe. Sending you love and healing thoughts every day❤️

  • March 14, 2017 - 2:33 pm

    Paige - You are amazing! I’m so impressed that the weeks between rounds you are going non-stop! What a fun weekend for Lex too!

  • March 14, 2017 - 5:00 pm

    Liz - I never ever want those last 20 minutes of my life back because I 1) love reading new blog posts from you and 2) love getting updates on how you’re doing. Even though we text often, I know it’s a lot to tell everyone details daily, and I might just be nosy (ok, I am), but I loved the detail in this post. The good, the bad, and the ugly. You are one kick ass mom, friend, wife, and all around person. I am genuinely so happy that I know you and that I can be here to cheer you on. You truly inspire me to work harder and be better. LOVE YOU! xo

  • March 14, 2017 - 8:31 pm

    Desiree - Those 20 minutes were the realest ones I’ve read since… Your last update.
    I love you hard, my friend – sparse eyelashes and all.
    This is probably starting to sound like a broken record, but damn it, you’re so strong. There aren’t words to express how much I admire your strength, spirit, and honesty.
    One of these days you’re going to write a blog post that says, “I kicked Bertha’s as$.” And this all *will* be in the review mirror.
    Hugs and love.

  • March 15, 2017 - 6:40 am

    B - Hard real life has a way of sorting the friends versus fake friends quickly! I’m a fast reader and I adore getting your updates, knowing you are okay (I IG stalk you as well) and learn that this is hard both mentally and physically. Your girls are adorable and I know they would get along with my girls fantastically – now if I can just convince my husband to move across the country. Working out at all is a feat for me and I am not fighting for my life so seeing you rock it and being so active is amazing!

  • March 15, 2017 - 7:51 am

    Lynn Richey - Erin. I know I haven’t been the most consistent poster to you. But you are rarely gone from my thoughts and prayers. You are such a remarkable, brace and inspiring young woman with so much life and joy and great adventure ahead of you. You are a beautiful wife, mother daughter and friend to so many. You take the sadness we feel for you and somehow make the feelings lighter and we feel empowered by your incredible strength and character. Love the pictures you share. It reminds us of all you have to fight for and WIN!!! And you will win!! You are thought and prayed for daily. You are in my heart forever. Have a beautiful day today! Love, Lynn

  • March 15, 2017 - 3:09 pm

    Erinn Connolly - I love hearing you had such an awesome break between rounds getting to experience so much and enjoy your family in such a trying time. I love reading your updates and being included in this journey, you are so inspiring and I wish you health, happiness, and 3 more pounds of swedish fish. lots of thoughts, prayers, and good vibes always heading your way!

  • March 15, 2017 - 5:39 pm

    Abbi - I love hearing your story – thank you for being real about the good and bad. I’m keeping you in my prayers buddy! You’ve got this. It’s so amazing you have this tribe around you! Your girls are so lucky to have such a strong mama.

  • March 15, 2017 - 7:45 pm

    Bonnie Hardy (Bev Disney's Mom) - Erin – keep up the good fight. You are an amazing woman and your strength and determination must mean so much for those in the same struggle. Thanks for sharing with all of us. It truly makes one stop and think about all the blessings we have in our current lives and also causes us to appreciate all the wondrous moments of each and every day that we have. Life is short as we all know, but for that very reason, we need to experience fully all the moments, good and bad and be thankful that we are still here to do so.

    Take care, Erin, and I look forward to your next post. Hugs.

  • March 16, 2017 - 3:38 am

    Joseph - Hey! Erin!
    Great post. Love those sunglasses! And, your little darlings are the cutest.
    I am truly amazed at your strength and courage to be so active at this level. I continue to pray for you and the family. God always has this. Robin and my family say hello always keep you in prayer.
    Peace be with you.

  • March 17, 2017 - 2:16 pm

    Chelsey - What a rock star, and I love your honesty. I can’t even begin to imagine, as I have kids your same age. Glad your’e feeling good in between, but I’m sure it plays a bit of a mind game as you know whats coming next now. And I CAN’T believe you power through Dland with two kids, I did that this week too and man is it tiring!! Rooting for you!

  • March 26, 2017 - 10:15 pm

    Laura Keenan - Oh friend, what an honest glimpse into your battle. Your strength still shines through even though this is shitty & unfair. I wish I could eat orange chicken with you all day & help in any other way. I’m here! I’m swear I’m here. And I wanna talk shorties, & Hart of Dixie, & maybe even throw on a pitbull tune. Hugs!!!

  • March 29, 2017 - 9:00 am

    Edith - I love reading your posts. After all you are going through it is refreshing to just read about real life. Punch me but you are halfway there! You are such an inspiration and your girls look so happy! Following your battle with you.

Considering I started round 3 it’s probably time to recap round 2. I mean there’s only six rounds- if I can recap 12 months of my children’s first years of life I can surely manage six chemo recaps?

I was nervous going in for this round. Just the unexpected and honestly having them access my port for the first time freaked me the F out (turns out freezing spray and amazing nurses made that go smoothly). Day 1 I was in the office for 6 hours. Days 2-4 I only had to pop in for a zofran drip and to get a bag change for my sweet messenger bag. And day 5 I was there for 2 hours.

And those were the only times I left the house.

This round was harder during the actual round. I was way more nauseous. I would get this crazy steroid high on Monday & Tuesday morning but by the afternoon was worthless on the couch (it doesn’t help that chemo insomnia has me waking up at 330 most mornings… and the peeing every few hours because they’re pumping so much liquid into me). And by Wednesday I was a shell of a person just taking naps and trying to binge watch hart of Dixie on Netflix.

But the recovery seemed faster. On friday evening when i broke free of my chemo pack I was SO EXCITED. It was k’s birthday- I wasn’t on chemo anymore. I was chugging Gatorade (2 quarts is a LOT of Gatorade), I was allowed to shower for the first time in 4 days!

I left the office with a neulasta patch. It’s a motorized patch that delivers my bone marrow boost 26 hours after my last round of chemo. That adminstired itself on Saturday night. That’s when my bone pain set in. I’d say that the bone pain is one of my worst side effects. Clothing touching my body feels like daggers. I want to wrap myself in a heating pad (i.e. Electric blanket? I should look into that). Come to find out my bone marrow is a freaking rockstar. It shoots my white blood cells to levels 6x of a normal person and never drops much lower than the low side of average. My doctor was absolutely giddy upon seeing my levels sky rocket- then drop- then bounce above normal again. It also means with my levels not dropping too low I get a 20% up in chemo dosage each time. So by round 6 I’ll be getting double what I got round one (if my maths correct. That’s honesrly the first time I’ve done that math before and it’s horrifying).

My mouth sores weren’t as bad- the bone pain was excruciating but manageable. And the nausea drifted away. By Wednesday of week 2 I was working out! I fit in FIVE workouts between Wednesday and Sunday. We had dinner with friends. I felt like a normal person (a bald one. But a normal one!).

Speaking of being bald.

I’m letting my bald flag fly. I can’t do hats anymore. They’re hot and itchy and the girls hate them. And as soon as I realized I was wearing them to make other people feel better about ME being sick I said – f it! I’ll tan my melon and rock it. People have been SO SWEET. Strangers come up and compliment me on my fantastic head shape (thanks mom & dad for letting me be a stomach sleeper when I was an infant). It also helps that I now look JUST like my favorite rapper pitbull.

In other news I had a PET scan to check on bertha’s progress. And I’m SO happy to report she’s shrinking. And shrinking quickly! I was hoping I’d go in and it would be all “your cancer free! Let’s cancel those last 3 rounds!” But turns out it doesn’t work like that anyplace besides my dreams.

So there’s round 2 and the aftermath of round 2 in a nutshell.

my hair started getting SO patchy. so i made mike take duct tape to it.

and then i made him shave it to finish it off. for better or worse people!

once it was gone and tanned it felt SO much better!

my friend leslie was determined to help me cope with the bald in public. so she assigned me homework and made me text her selfies out and about bald. at the doctors, at target, at a basketball game. . .

one of my first pilates classes back. i think was sore for dayyyys.

i can’t explain it. . .but i now feel the need to dress like pitbull. with my cool edge haircut.

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

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  • February 21, 2017 - 8:43 am

    Lynn Richey - You are a rockstar! Amazing! ❤️

  • February 21, 2017 - 9:21 am

    julie - You are beyond amazing. I mean, there are no words to describe how awesome you are. I have tears in my eyes! I bet everyone reading this not only is cheering you on, but also thinking MY GOODNESS she is gorgeous and positive and upbeat and funny and perfect! Seriously, we need to get you on Ellen or something. Dang girl!

  • February 21, 2017 - 6:54 pm

    Gayle - I’m so impressed by you. You don’t let anything keep you sidelined! What an inspiring and beautiful person you are! Thank you for sharing and teaching us all how to live life large!!!

  • February 21, 2017 - 10:03 pm

    Linda Zarbock - I get excited each time your mom posts your update. I think Lynn Richey said it best: you are a Rock Star and a beautiful one at that !!

  • February 21, 2017 - 11:34 pm

    Tobey Leier - Everytime I read your update I admire you so much Erin!! Your honesty, positive attitude and your continued sense of humor is amazing as you take this journey to kick Bertha’s Ass!! … you are truly one beautiful strong woman!! And yes.. now you do have an uncanny resemblance to Pitbull… but wasaaayy cuter!! Sending more love and hugs your way ❤

  • February 22, 2017 - 8:03 am

    Desiree - God. I love you. Just when I think you’re the strongest person I know you give an update, shoot a text, and you’re simply rocking it all, and so damn gracefully. Stronger than strong.
    You amaze me daily. And, I’m crying right now. So. Thanks for that. 😉

  • February 22, 2017 - 12:32 pm

    Erinn Connolly - Sending love and some sideline cheers to you. Amazed by your strength and attitude!

  • February 22, 2017 - 11:41 pm

    Lauren - You are AMAZING! Love pit bull and you rock that look girl! You are an inspiration! I want to send you something would you mind sending me your address?

  • February 23, 2017 - 5:08 am

    Natalie - You are a rockstar!! I’m so happy to hear bertha is shrinking- such good news. I just love they way you’re handling this, it’s such an inspiration, and I don’t even mean that in a cliche way it truly is!!

  • February 23, 2017 - 5:12 pm

    Liz - Girl, you know how I feel about you. You are seriously a rockstar. My hero. And I love your friend Leslie for her little challenge! Seriously so sweet of her. Is she the one who brought you all that ice cream today? Because if she is, I know how good that ice cream is and I really am coming over! LOL.
    But in all seriousness, you are kicking Bertha’s a$$. You have such a positive outlook on everything and have kept your humor through this whole thing which I know is helping you immensely in your recovery. You are one gorgeous bald lady, Mrs. Worldwide! I love you! xo

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my doctor warned me i wouldnt be starting the second round of chemo with hair (which i promise is a good thing because i’m also not allowed to shower for 5 days). but still i dont think anything can fully prepare you for the day you start pulling out clumps in the shower.

it started on monday coming out in really small doses. but by tuesday i knew it was GAME OVER. i stood in the shower pulling out clumps of hair and knew i wouldn’t last one more day mentally.

not everyone gets to shave their head on their birthday.

i knew i had my head wrapped around the situation but i wasn’t sure how the girls would take it. i knew i needed to involve lex in the process as much as possible to soften the blow. so mike did the majority of the work- but lex got to have a turn with the clippers too. it turned it into a game instead of being some huge horrible emotional thing for her (and me!).

i won’t lie. i cried the first time i saw myself. i think the hardest part is that i now LOOK sick. it was something that was easy to hide. it was easy to pretend everything was normal on the outside- and now? well now i totally look like a cancer patient (or GI jane until the rest of it falls out). the girls handled it SO WELL. lex won’t even let me wear a hat at home because she thinks THATS sillier than my new hair cut (hats are itchy anyways).

so now its gone. just in time for round 2!

mike saved my hair in a bag (fear not. i tossed it).

i prefer to think i just look “cold” instead of sick. . .

during my first “public appearance”& birthday dinner sans hair one of my bff’s showed up with a head scarf on to soften the blow. that girl is a KEEPER.

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  • January 26, 2017 - 1:56 pm

    Heidi - You look BEAUTIFUL!!! You always have that beautiful smile. You ARE SO STRONG. You hide it well. Always thinking of you. Hugs and Kisses Heidi and Gordon.

  • January 26, 2017 - 3:09 pm

    Michele - You are gorgeous! Your smile lights up your entire face…and stating the obvs, your head is shaped nicely. Huge plus! You don’t look sick, you look like a fighter!! Fight on, girlfriend. You’ve got this!

  • January 26, 2017 - 3:22 pm

    Gayle - Erin,
    You may think you look sick, but you truly look beautiful. Keep writing and smiling…your beauty spills over and is very inspiring on so many levels❤️ Happy Birthday, my sweet friend!!!

  • January 26, 2017 - 3:45 pm

    Liz - You don’t look sick… you look STRONG! You are one of the strongest people I know. You are truly my hero. I love you so much and think you look BEAUTIFUL!
    I love that you involved Lex and I love that she won’t let you wear a hat at home. Mike and your girls are truly amazing and I am SO happy you get to be home with them this next round!

  • January 26, 2017 - 3:55 pm

    Laura - You are one fierce and amazing mama!

  • January 26, 2017 - 5:04 pm

    Jessica - Erin, you look amazing! Involving the girls the way you have and having the strength to see the positive in all of this is inspiring and you should be proud. I can tell that your girls are. You are being such an amazing role model for them. They are lucky you are their mom.

  • January 26, 2017 - 6:55 pm

    Sarah S. - You are just so beautiful inside and out! I, for one, know I wouldn’t look that good without hair so props to you for rocking it! And as always, your humor is the best!

  • January 26, 2017 - 7:43 pm

    Courtney - You look beautiful! And really in that hat you don’t look sick..just cold as you say.

  • January 27, 2017 - 4:18 am

    Meghan - What an amazing mom to make sure that something that is hard for you, easier for your girls! And honestly, you really do rock the bald head! Just own it and no one will assume you are sick, cause it really does look awesome on you! And what an amazing friend to wear a head scarf to dinner! I knew a woman who was going through chemo and when she shaved her head her husband and 5 kids (all over 10) shaved their heads too. I was always impressed 3 of her daughters did it too!

  • January 27, 2017 - 5:05 am

    B - You are such an awesome mommy, and so brave! You rock that shaved head! and your friend, she is a keeper.

  • January 27, 2017 - 8:24 am

    Erinn Connolly - So amazed by you, and of course these pics make look losing your fun and beautiful. You really are gorgeous with or without hair. And your friend wins for most supportive, how thoughtful and sweet for that to even cross her mind. Love that Bertha isn’t keeping you down.

  • January 27, 2017 - 9:51 am

    Laura Keenan - You are one bad ass GI Jane. And you have one of thee best friends to wear a head scarf with you! So so sweet! And i’m so happy to see you tossing some champs back… because that would be a travesty if you had to go without. Hope your birthday was as special as could be. Will be thinking about you lots as you head into Round 2.

  • January 27, 2017 - 9:55 am

    Jessica Beer - You are beautiful and amazing and I’m so proud of you for involving Lex in the process! Love you mama!

  • January 27, 2017 - 9:56 am

    Bon - Looking good there, Erin. You really don’t need a head scarf – with your face and beautiful smile, you can still brighten up the rooms you are in. Nice that you made Lex a big part of it as well. Think of you often and sending good thoughts your way. Hugs.

  • January 27, 2017 - 11:14 am

    Jess - You are such a strong person, even if you don’t feel it! To think of your girls during this time is simply amazing. I love that you are tackling this and sharing it with everyone. I hope it is helpful. And you do look hot, so don’t even fret about that!! Kick ass, girl. Thinking of you always!

  • January 27, 2017 - 10:20 pm

    Mollyp - I know you think you look sick now, but I can’t stop staring at how absolutely gorgeous you look. Your eyes sparkle. Your smile shows your sassy side. You are rocking it girl! #kba. Kick berthas ass!

  • January 28, 2017 - 5:41 am

    Brooke - You are truly so beautiful! I saw your insta story with your girls and I have always admired how beautiful and well styled your photos were… you could not look prettier with your hair as it is!! I am praying right now that you would feel so strong from something greater than yourself in your very weakest moments.

  • January 28, 2017 - 2:01 pm

    Sara - I can’t tell you how glad I am that you are surrounded by the most amazing friends since I can’t be there. And I just think you’re beautiful with or without hair. Love you so much.

  • January 29, 2017 - 6:47 am

    Joseph Gray - God’s strength is made great in our weakness. Bless you. And Peace be with you.

  • January 29, 2017 - 9:01 pm

    Desiree - Hair or not, you are beautiful.
    And, though I’ve said it a million times before, your strength through all of this is so freaking inspiring.

  • February 2, 2017 - 9:05 am

    Crystal - You are beautiful with or without hair! And you are so dang strong. Your positive attitude throughout it all is such an inspiration. Also, what a great friend that is! Wow. Just wow!

  • February 10, 2017 - 10:07 am

    Lauren - You go girl! Kick cancers ass!!

round one IN DA BOOKS.

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round one was interesting. I had exactly zero idea what to expect and i don’t necessarily love the unexpected.

we checked into the hospital bright n early on Monday morning- ready and raring to go. My fantastic doctor met us there- and i got to see the beautiful room I’d be spending the next five days of my life in.

I was just happy it had its own shower (not that I got to use it more than twice). Even though the hospital blocked access to Netflix (the NERVE).

So it came time for the nurse to get me all hooked up- i was so excited to use my fancy port for the first time. And she took one look at my port and decided it looked a little red (probably because I was a whopping 3 days post op). She was worried if she accessed the port and it was infected she’d send an infection straight into my blood stream- which is no bueno. So down to radiology I went to get a PICC line. Those warm and friendly people recognized me the second my gurney was wheeled down– as much as I love being on a first name basis with radiology I hope to not see them again until they rip my port out.

after my PICC line was in it was time to start the chemo. Which was really anticlimactic guys. I was expecting this big old BANG! YOURE DOING CHEMO with streamers and balloons! and dancers chanting “bon voyage bertha!”. But there was none of that. Just this orange stuff being pumped into my body.

Chemo is weird. It feels like the steroids and chemo drugs were battling in my head. Uppers and downers. It was impossible to concentrate, impossible to sit still, and day two brought the ever famous nausea. Nausea and being exhausted and feeling loopy. The five days blurred into one another big time (especially since they wouldn’t let me off the floor. I probably circled the floor 400 times). Its so weird, i can’t concentrate enough to read a book- or write out a coherent email. i’m not even sure this post will make any sense.

Day five I finished up three of my drugs and had two infusions left. One was easy peasy. The rituxan however is a literal beast. They have two nurses sit with you the entire time waiting for an allergic reaction to come. It was a party (I heart the nursing staff at torrance memorial like crazy) until my allergic reaction hit. It felt like my nut allergy- tongue & airway swelling. And they don’t mess around with airway swelling- so I was hit with an extreme amount of Benadryl.

It was lights out erin.

I’m writing this- so obviously you know there’s a happy ending coming your way. The Benadryl did its magic and I was allowed to head for home the second my last infusion was finished. Which was the highlight of my week (besides being unhooked long enough to shower twice).

Home has been absolutely amazing. Being around mike and the girls it’s just good for my soul.

I’m handling the emotional side of the medial stuff fairly well (i think?), but the kindness side of it makes me tear up every damn time. The cards, the flowers, the group of bloggers who got together to send me the most amazing gifts ever, the visitors, the meals, the social media comments, the thoughts & prayers. . . i could go on and on about how NICE everyone is. i don’t know what i did to deserve all of this- or how i’ll ever truly be able to thank everyone. but it means the WORLD to me (to us!). i so badly want to write everyone a personalized thank you and just let them know how grateful we are- but i can’t figure out how or when– but i’m trying. words just can’t express the thankful feelings we’re feeling. We have all this amazing support and I’m trying so hard not to count down the days until the madness begins again.


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a highlight of the week was when k showed up wearing her overalls on backwards. . .


i wasn’t allowed out of my room without one of these damn masks on.

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  • January 16, 2017 - 3:59 pm

    Sara - We are officially one round down and one round closer to ADVENTURES…. so WAY TO GO. Love you so much. I’m so proud of you!! Remind me to tell you about the time I got sent home from school for wearing a Millertime shirt because dad was in charge of wardrobe…

  • January 16, 2017 - 4:03 pm

    Meghan - 1 round down… woohoo! So glad you are home with your family! And I’m so glad you have such an amazing support system. I think I can speak for everyone and say no thank you note is necessary… just get better :).

  • January 16, 2017 - 4:15 pm

    Courtney Patterson - Round one down and guess what – you did it! You are amazing; a ferocious, kick-ass warrior. Thinking of you and sending lots of love and prayers your way.

  • January 16, 2017 - 5:13 pm

    Stef Harris - Erin, you’re an inspiration to us all. Your attitude towards everything is incredible and I can only imagine how seeing your girls and Mike brighten your day. Thinking of you often and sending lots of love. xoxo

  • January 16, 2017 - 5:29 pm

    Lacey Bean - Go YOU!!!

  • January 16, 2017 - 5:32 pm

    sarita @ it's my girls' world - You are awesome. I’m sending SO many prayers your way!

  • January 16, 2017 - 6:29 pm

    Jessica Beer - Yay for round one being done! So proud of you friend and praying for you!

  • January 16, 2017 - 8:28 pm

    Desiree - You’re so damn amazing.
    I cannot wait to throw a massive “KICKED BERTHA’S ASS” party when this is all said and done!

  • January 16, 2017 - 9:09 pm

    Sharon - Thinking about you. Sending love & hugs to you, Mike & the girls see you in Feb, hugs in person. Love from Tony too.

  • January 16, 2017 - 9:44 pm

    Liz - HELL to the YES. You are done with round one and kicking butt and taking names. You are so strong and so amazing and have such a positive outlook on things. In a few short months, Bertha will officially be kicked to the curb! xoxoxo

  • January 16, 2017 - 10:41 pm

    Jean Hamilton - You are so courageous! The Ham Fam is rooting (and praying) for you like crazy!!!!

  • January 16, 2017 - 11:12 pm

    Katie Bliven - Wait. Netflix was blocked? It seems like it should be part of the treatment plan.
    So happy you’re home. It’s funny how disruptions make you crave the routine. XO.

  • January 17, 2017 - 5:03 am

    Paige Haring - So glad round one is done. Thinking of you.

  • January 17, 2017 - 5:34 am

    Joseph Gray - Nicely done Erin! Getting to first base. Not going through this myself, but having a first-born like you go through it, i feel you did vey well despite the allergic reaction. I see life and joy in your pictures of you and the girls instead of fear and “poor me”, which is awesome. Truly. Mom and Dad raised you right, to be a fighter and appreciate the love and kindness heading your way. I will continue praying for your healing directly or indirectly so that you can serve your family and friends with a heart of gratitude and humility that is loved by God. Peace be with you.

  • January 17, 2017 - 6:06 am

    B - One is in the books, yay for surviving, for lots of acts of kindness, for baby girls and backwards overalls. I am sure the girls are thrilled to have their hero home too. Now you know you got this! You are awesome and we (my babies and I) are cheering you on from the east coast (good ole Maryland!).

  • January 17, 2017 - 6:41 am

    Tawnya - Yay!!! One down! Glad you’re dealing with it all well, the part about the IV steroids made me cringe, that restless unfocused feeling is no joke. I get a high dose of steroids after my surgeries and it is awful!! So happy you’re back with your family and hopefully feeling ok ❤

  • January 17, 2017 - 8:15 am

    Heidi - WOW!! What an update. You are amazing. Our thoughts are with you. Hugs and Kisses Heidi and Gordon.

  • January 17, 2017 - 11:09 am

    Crystal - Yay for round one being OVER! You are so strong my friend. I’m happy that you are getting to spend some time with your sweet and precious family! And Meghan is right, no thank you note is needed. I hope you enjoyed all of the goodies!

  • January 17, 2017 - 11:57 am

    Stephanie - I will be cheering you on the whole way! You are so much stronger than I imagine myself being. I hate being a patient but I can promise you I too would be kicking Bertha’s ass.
    Love and hugs!

  • January 17, 2017 - 1:09 pm

    Sarah - You are in my thoughts! Take care of yourself!

  • January 17, 2017 - 3:04 pm

    Heidi - Erin, be expecting a delivery on Thursday. It wouldn’t allow me to say who it was from. Something you enjoy. XOXOXO Heidi

  • January 19, 2017 - 2:09 pm

    Laureen Deveau - The backwards overalls and your killer attitude are my favorite. Yay for one down!! 🙂

  • January 22, 2017 - 10:02 pm

    Whitney - You are a rockstar. Praying for you and your family!!!